April 24, 2024

Jasper County provides $259K in opioid settlement money to local organizations

Discover Hope, Clearview Recovery, House of Mercy are some of entities receiving funds

Jasper County Attorney Scott Nicholson and Jasper County Board of Health Administrator Becky Pryor speak to the board of supervisors on June 6 about the applicants seeking opioid settlement funding. All five recommendations – totaling more than $259,000 – were approved by the supervisors.

More than $259,000 in settlement money was authorized to be distributed or earmarked to organizations in Jasper County that are helping individuals affected by the opioid crisis in some way. The county board of supervisors on June 6 were given five recommendations by a committee. All five requests were approved.

Funds were given to Clearview Recovery, Inc., Colfax Public Library, MercyOne House of Mercy and the Lynnville-Sully and PCM school districts’ D.A.R.E. programs, which are operated through county sheriff’s office. Discover Hope 517 was earmarked funds that would be given after successful fundraising.

Board of health administrator Becky Pryor and county attorney Scott Nicholson, who are both members of the Jasper County Opioid Settlement Committee, presented the recommendations to supervisors during the June 6 meeting, and they explained why each entity wanted the funds.

Clearview Recovery, an addiction treatment center in Prairie City, was provided $43,070 to pay for 30 additional days of treatment on top of the 30 days that insurance companies already supplement. In the past, Nicholson said insurance companies used to pay for 60 days of treatment.

“This $43,000 will greatly help those in the program,” Nicholson said. “We’re basically doubling the days of treatment that they can receive.”

DeDe Blom, director of operations for Clearview Recovery, said the extra 30 days is needed because just a 30-day treatment is not enough. Nicholson spoke highly of the organization and its programming, and he noted the center would likely seek annual funding from the county for its efforts.

Discover Hope will be given $100,000 so long as they can show they fundraised for the proposed resource center project, which is estimated to cost $1 million. Robbie Robinson, executive director of Discover Hope, said the center is not a homeless shelter but would help those experiencing homelessness.

“As you know, in Jasper County, we really don’t have great facilities for homeless people, and this wouldn’t be strictly homeless,” Nicholson said.

Robinson added, “Our vision with the resource center is to house them on site for 30 to 60 days. They get to be there for free. What we do in that timeframe is do their assessments to determine if they need inpatient treatment our outpatient treatment or get them into longer term transitional living.”

Typically, when some individuals are in crisis, the practice in Newton has been to temporarily house people in hotel rooms. But both Robinson and Nicholson say this does not work and provides no accountability for addressing the actual issues or getting them the help that they need.

The resource center also provides individuals with Discover Hope’s current transitional housing and job retention programs to bring them back into the community. Robinson said the center allows staff to assess the needs of both men and women experiencing homelessness or addiction issues.

If the project does not come to fruition, Nicholson said the county would not be out $100,000. The check will be given when the project has received enough money to complete the project, including the $100,000 earmarked from the county. Robinson said the organization is currently seeking grant funding.

Brandon Talsma, chair of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, mentioned that the opioid settlement funds had to be spend on the prevention and abatement of the use of opioids and treatment of those with addictions to opioids, so he worried the project might not be eligible.

Pryor quelled any worries, noting the project is indeed eligible because it provides comprehensive wrap-around services — including housing, transportation, job placement/training and child care — to individuals with opioid use disorders and any co-occurring substance use or mental health condition.

“There are other areas they could fall into under this, too,” Pryor said.

Colfax Public Library was provided $300 to purchase books concerning opioid addiction. The set of books library director Lisa Van Gorp will buy can also be loaned to other libraries in the county. Nicholson said the books will bring awareness to the community about this type of addiction.

“Because it is different than other types,” he said.

Van Gorp added, “The first two or three (books) are kind of the history of opioid addiction and explaining how it came to be and how people so easily became addicted. And then there are several about treatment and different ways to address treatment. There are two or three about personal struggles.”

MercyOne House of Mercy was provided $112,434 to pay for a two-year position to lead a peer-support program for substance use. Initially, the House of Mercy was asking for enough funds to pay for three years, but the committee instead gave enough for two years.

“They would give us the outcomes, too,” Pryor said. “…They’re looking at a case load of around 100 clients is what they plan to serve per year.”

Nicholson said, “This position will be a new position that actually meets with the person in treatment in the community, help provide services, hook them up with additional resources. Because what we find is the more supports and resources a person has as they’re going through recovery, the better.”

Lynnville-Sully and Prairie City-Monroe school districts were given $3,800 for D.A.R.E. program-related items. Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said there are two D.A.R.E. instructors teaching at the fifth grade level, which has been going on for the past 25 years.

“We had a lot of success with that and we’ll continue to be there,” Halferty said. “But we’ve lost some significant contributors over the years that have provided additional funds for the program, basically providing items to the students … This would allow us to, for lack of a better term, stockpile some of those things.”

Nicholson said youth prevention is highly recommended in the spending of opioid settlement funds.

Supervisors unanimously approved each request in a 3-0 vote, apart from the request from Discover Hope which was passed in a 2-0 vote. Supervisor Doug Cupples serves on the board for Discover Hope, and he abstained from voting and discussing the matter.

To learn more about the opioid settlement funds, visit co.jasper.ia.us and type “opioid settlement funds” in the top-right search bar of your browser.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.